Moscow - A programming error may have caused a rocket carrying three Russian navigation satellites to fail to reach orbit, a Russian space agency source told the RIA Novosti news agency on Monday.
“A number of specialists think that mistakes in the programming of the onboard computer system of the Proton rocket led to the engines sending the rocket too high and onto a faulty trajectory,” the source said.
The rocket carrying satellites for the Russian government navigation system Glonass, failed to reach the correct orbit Sunday after blasting off from Baikonur cosmodrome, the Russian space agency said.
The satellites apparently crashed into the Pacific Ocean near Hawaii, a source in the space agency told RIA Novosti.
President Dmitry Medvedev ordered the Prosecutor General Yury Chaika to investigate the loss of the satellites and name the people responsible, the Kremlin said in a statement on its website late Sunday.
The terse statement said the president had also demanded an audit of spending on the entire Glonass programme.
The failure was an embarrassing setback for Russia's attempt to put a satellite navigation system in place to rival the United States's GPS (Global Positioning System) and steal a march on Europe's fledgling Galileo system. - Sapa-AFP